Scripture: James 5:1-20
Observation: In his final chapter, James first addresses those who are rich, denouncing them for oppressing the arrogant and poor. He encourages them to wait with patient endurance for the second coming of the Lord. Finally, he points them to the power of prayer and affirms those who reach out to the lost.
Application: When I was in elementary school, I would spend hours with my friends and our magic 8 ball. We’d ask that little black ball every question we could think of – “Does Sam like me?” “Will I pass my math test on Friday?” “Does Mr. Smith hate me?” – and then we’d shake that ball as vigorously as possible, hold our breath, and turn it over to see the answer suspended in that blue liquid. We had to hope for the best and that we’d get a real answer, not one of those terrible middle-ground answers like, “Reply hazy” or “Try again later.” Those were the worst.
(Clearly, we were easily entertained.)
The magic 8 ball was nothing but a cheap toy designed by Mattel to entertain gullible third graders, but it represented something we’re all searching for, whether we’re in third grade or 30 years old: answers.
We know the magic 8 ball won’t give us answers – but what will?
Prayer will give us answers. They may not always be the answers we’re looking for, but they’re the perfect, loving answers from our perfect, loving God.
When we’re faced with hardships or sickness or trials, think of all the things we tend do: isolate ourselves, medicate ourselves, allow ourselves to get anxious or overwhelmed, go to others for answers and advice, ignore the problem. It’s like our minds become a magic 8 ball that we shake to choose what to do next – when truthfully, what we should do next (and first and last and everywhere in between) is go to God.
James reminds us why:
“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (verse 16)
Prayers produces answers.
Throughout the Bible, we see God grant answers to big, bold, audacious prayers. Elijah prayed that no rain would fall for three and a half years – and it didn’t. Joshua prayed that the sun would stand still in the sky for 24 hours – and it did. Abraham prayed that he would have a son, and even when he was 100 years old and his wife decades past childbearing age, he kept praying – and they eventually bore a son. We read about men and women spending their lives in prayer, constantly turning towards God in big moments and small and everywhere in between. These prayers weren’t simply words; they were cries of the heart fueled by faith – faith in a loving, passionate God whose power has no limits.
When you suffer hardships, pray.
When you’re happy, praise him.
When you’re sick, ask others to pray with you.
When you’re struggling with sin, confess and pray with others.
Let the rhythm of your life be praise and prayer, praise and prayer.
Pray with faith today. Our prayers won’t be answered instantaneously, and they may not always be answered the way we want to see them answered. But, our God is always listening, and he is always capable – no request is too small, no miracle too big.
Prayer: God, I come to you first with praise! Thank you for who you are, our Creator and our Sustainer – the one who will provide for every need. And I come to you in prayer today, offering every worry and desire I have to you, confident in your ability to receive them and answer them. I rest in your wisdom and your will. I trust in you. Amen.
- Reading through verses 1-6, how do you live generously?
- Which characters throughout the Bible have taught you the most about endurance and patience through suffering? How?
- What was the most powerful prayer moment in your life?
- How do you remain in a constant state of praise and prayer?